Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 43 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 432 Ratings

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  • Starring: , , ,
  • Summary: In the years after WWII, an American intellectual creates a religion. When he meets a troubled drifter, he invites the man to help him spread the new faith. As their congregation increases, the drifter begins to question the religion he once accepted and the mentor who gave his life direction.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 43
  2. Negative: 1 out of 43
  1. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Sep 13, 2012
    100
    It is a movie about the lure and folly of greatness that comes as close as anything I've seen recently to being a great movie. There will be skeptics, but the cult is already forming. Count me in.
  2. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Sep 20, 2012
    100
    The Master is brilliantly, wholly itself for a little more than half of its 137 minutes. Then it chases its own tail a bit and settles for being merely a fascinating metaphoric father-son relationship reaching endgame. It may not all "work," but most of it's remarkable.
  3. Reviewed by: Emma Dibdin
    Nov 4, 2012
    100
    With potent performers and poetic visuals, Anderson has made the boldest American picture of the year. Its strangeness can be hard to process, but this is a shattering study of the impossibility of recovering the past.
  4. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Sep 10, 2012
    90
    On reflection, and despite these cavils, we should bow to The Master, because it gives us so much to revere, starting with the image that opens the film and recurs right up to the end-the turbid, blue-white wake of a ship. There goes the past, receding and not always redeemable, and here comes the future, waiting to churn us up.
  5. Reviewed by: Charlie Schmidilin
    Aug 17, 2012
    83
    Even amongst its most wrenching scenes of unfettered anger and broken loyalty, a volatile sensuality nonetheless invades every frame of Paul Thomas Anderson's arresting The Master.
  6. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Sep 14, 2012
    75
    Yet, for all of The Master's laudable elements, it falls short of greatness for one simple reason: the storytelling is unspectacular.
  7. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Sep 18, 2012
    25
    Call The Master whatever you want, but lobotomized catatonia from what I call the New Hacks can never take the place of well-made narrative films about real people that tell profound stories for a broader and more sophisticated audience. Fads come and go, but as Walter Kerr used to say, "I'll yell tripe whenever tripe is served."

See all 43 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 80 out of 156
  2. Negative: 56 out of 156
  1. Sep 17, 2012
    10
    Another amazing epic Paul Thomas Anderson film where every facet of the film is extremely dynamic. It is very dense and there's a lot to takeAnother amazing epic Paul Thomas Anderson film where every facet of the film is extremely dynamic. It is very dense and there's a lot to take in whether it be the tense, grinding score, the gorgeous shot choices (punctuated by vibrant color and detail in 70mm), or knock out performances from the lead males. The physical work that Joaquin does is outstanding, I have not seen an actor as fully committed and free in a long time, perhaps since Daniel Day in There Will Be Blood. Paul's most interesting film in terms of structure/ editing, jumping through time willy nilly, perhaps mirroring the teachings of Lancaster Dodd or perhaps entering the mind of Freddie continually going back to where he is stuck (the war/ lost loves). The relationship between Dodd and Quell is tense and at times adorable, they are so in love and desire so much to have what the other has: Lancaster wants to act on impulse and not be controlled by any "Master" and Freddie whats to break this insane cycle he seems to find himself trapped in. This film will absolutely take many more viewings and I believe it will continue to grow in my mind as PT's best film (potentially). Expand
  2. Jul 23, 2013
    10
    this movie is not for people whom are not movie lovers. this artwork is a masterpiece and actually PTA is The Master. acts are brilliant.this movie is not for people whom are not movie lovers. this artwork is a masterpiece and actually PTA is The Master. acts are brilliant. Hoffman is great as always and this is Joaquin's best act ever. along side with The Holy Motors, the best movies of 2012... if you know about movies and PTA, this comment is unnecessary and you already ignored the low scored reviews. Expand
  3. Mar 10, 2013
    9
    Paul Thomas Anderson continues to prove that he's one of the best directors going today. If you want a film with superior acting andPaul Thomas Anderson continues to prove that he's one of the best directors going today. If you want a film with superior acting and outstanding dialogue then I would highly recommend The Master. Expand
  4. Sep 27, 2012
    6
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. One thing that will drive me to go see a movie is the widely varying reviews here on Metacritic - like those for The Master. A lot of people hated it - A lot of people loved it - and as a Hollywood citizen who has to walk by Scientology centers offering me free personality tests, or their Museum of Death (by psychiatry) to get to the Cinerama Dome - I was already a bit intrigued - plus I was having a boring day and thought I'd kill a few hours and make up my own mind.

    Seeing it in 70mm on the big screen I admit it looked good, but I wasn't as impressed as i thought I'd be. The acting was really great and it had it's moments but overall it was just the story of two screwy guys who don't really do much - One likes to drink poison to get high and basically has no life worth living, the other has created a floundering monster of a "religion" that involves past life regressions, a farce he must believe in to keep the bills paid. Somehow they both find comfort in helping each other - maybe the only time they can escape their personal hells? I found the film well made and well acted but I found it hard to care about any of the characters much. The cinematography was good but nothing really took my breath away. The music seemed overly dramatic at times and for some reason there were a number of scenes with groups applauding - where the sound seemed to have been eq'd to be loud and annoying. Overall i found it to be a well made, well acted, mediocre story about two mediocre men who got the mediocre life they deserve. It would have been much more entertaining if the story had its own perspective and/or cast one of the characters as the good guy or bad guy. But like many wimpy modern films it takes no perspective and makes no judgements. It just shows us how dysfunctional people can be with no opinion. It's funny - this is how I wish the reported the news - just the facts - but I prefer films with a perspective.
    Expand
  5. Oct 2, 2012
    4
    To Spike 69: I agree that Mr. Thomas aims at big themes. But, but, but, he is not Sartre, Tolstoy, Kafka, etc... and neither is Mr. HubbardTo Spike 69: I agree that Mr. Thomas aims at big themes. But, but, but, he is not Sartre, Tolstoy, Kafka, etc... and neither is Mr. Hubbard or dyanetics philosophyl. Let's keep it in good measure.
    I suggested that it resounds a little with some of Moby Dick's characters and some of the themes: like life searching, etc..
    Expand
  6. Mar 3, 2013
    2
    What a rambling movie. I really tried to get engaged but the plot just kept on bouncing around. I did find that acting excellent by JoaquinWhat a rambling movie. I really tried to get engaged but the plot just kept on bouncing around. I did find that acting excellent by Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but they could not overcome the ramble. Cinematography was beautiful; scenes were well shot and crafted. But too slow a pace, too thin an understanding of the characters, too much boredom, Expand
  7. Sep 27, 2012
    0
    This was one of the worst movies we have ever seen. There are only 2 other movies we disliked more than this one! The acting was pretty goodThis was one of the worst movies we have ever seen. There are only 2 other movies we disliked more than this one! The acting was pretty good but seemed like a waste on such an absolutely terrible movie. Nearly walked out 3 times. If it wasn't for one of our friends sons who actually liked it we would have walked out. He was just released from a mental institute on Monday and hadn't seen a movie in over a year; he loved the seen of Joaquin masturbating to beach sand (no joke). He likes animals a little too much. We will not be hanging out with him again. Don't waste your money on this Church of Scientology bunk. Notice how this movie started off strong in early ratings, now that more people have seen it the user score has dropped significantly! Expand

See all 156 User Reviews

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